PhD student giving a presentation

Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development

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Fill out this form to hear from a Price admissions counselor, get invited to webinars for prospective students, and learn more about admissions and financial aid.

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Fill out this form to hear from a Price admissions counselor, get invited to webinars for prospective students, and learn more about admissions and financial aid.

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The Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development prepares students to become researchers, scholars, and academics who contribute new ideas and innovate solutions to contemporary urban problems. Students obtain a solid foundation from which to launch their scholarly careers through advanced courses in planning theory and social justice, land use and urban development, climate change and sustainability, housing and real estate, data science and spatial analysis, demography, transportation and infrastructure, arts, culture, and community development. 

Research in urban planning and development has a direct impact on the world around us. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum focusing on critical discourse and inquiry and analytical and theoretical training, Ph.D. students at USC Price are prepared to contribute to solutions that address the world’s most pressing policy and planning issues.

John Romley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Pharmaceutical & Health Economics
Faculty Director, PhD Programs

For admissions information, please email [email protected]

Fields of Study

USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) received a $972,000 grant from the US Department of Defense for a study on “Economic Viability, Resilience, and Sustainability of Logistics Systems in Post-Conflict Zones.” Lead investigator Adam Rose points out the importance of this work, sharing that countries can’t survive without viable, sustainable and resilient transportation logistics systems – and in particular, countries like Lebanon, Syria and Iraq that have seen their systems severely damaged in recent years.

Through advanced theoretical core courses in critical thinking, planning theory, urban development, and research methodology, Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development students gain a strong foundation from which to launch their scholarly career and develop an area of expertise.

Working closely with faculty mentors, Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development students focus on and develop substantive expertise in core areas that leverage the Price School’s renowned research strengths in fields such as:


All Ph.D. students are supported for four years through a combination of fellowships and graduate assistantships that provides year-round full tuition, a competitive stipend, and health and dental insurance. Students beyond their fourth year obtain support through teaching or research assistantships, or funding from USC and/or outside sources. Ph.D. students have access to stipends for conference travel.

Learn more about funding »

Research in a Supportive Environment

Price School faculty mentor Ph.D. students to contribute to the scholarly foundations of their chosen field. Many Ph.D. students publish and present their work at conferences, often co-authoring papers with faculty.

Recent Ph.D. Student Publications

Arthur Acolin, J. Bricker, P.S. Calem, and S.M. Wachter (2016). A Renter or Homeowner Nation? 18.1: 145-157.

Arthur Acolin and Annette M. Kim. (2021). Algorithmic justice and groundtruthing the remote mapping of informal settlements: The example of Ho Chi Minh City’s periphery. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science. 2022;49(1):151-168. doi:10.1177/2399808321998708

Cynthia Barboza-Wilkes, Bill Resh, and Carmen Mooradian (2020). Unpaid Work? Emotional Labor Assessments and Episodic Recall Bias in Public Engagement, Journal of Behavioral Public Administration, Vol. 3(2), 1-11.

Yi Chen, Bryan Tysinger, Eileen Crimmins, and Julie Zissimopoulos (2019). Analysis of Dementia in the US Population Using Medicare Claims: Insights from Linked Survey and Administrative Claims Data, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, Vol 5(1), 197-207.

Jonathan Crisman and Annette M. Kim, (2019). Property Outlaws in the Southland: The Potentials and Limits of Guerrilla Urbanism in the Cases of Arts Gentrification in Boyle Heights and Street Vending Decriminalization in Los Angeles. Urban Design International. 24: 159-170.

Julia Harten, Annette M. Kim, & Cressica Brazier. (2020). Real and fake data in Shanghai’s informal rental housing market: Groundtruthing data scraped from the internet. Urban Studies, 58(9), 1831–1845.

Andy Hong and Lisa Schweitzer, L. Marr, and W. Yang (2015). Impact of Temporary Freeway Closure on Regional Air Quality: A Lesson from Carmageddon in Los Angeles. Environmental Science and Technology, 49(5): 3211-3218.

Hyojung Lee and Elizabeth Currid‐Halkett, & Gary D. Painter. (2019) Veblen goods and urban distinction: The economic geography of conspicuous consumption; Journal of Regional Science, 59(1): 83-117.

Matthew Miller (2015). Social Finance in Black Geographies: A Statistical Analysis of Locations in Los Angeles County. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, 21: 78-91.

Noah Miller, Adam Rose, Dan Wei, Toon Vandyck and Christian Flachsland (2018). Achieving Paris Climate Agreement Pledges: Alternative Designs for Linking Emissions Trading, Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Vol. 12, No. 1: 170-182.

Maria Francesca Piazzoni (2018). The Real Fake: Authenticity and the Production of Space, Fordham University Press.

Vincent Reina and Raphael Bostic and H. Schwartz, R.K. Green, L.M. Davis, and C.H. Augustine (2015). The Preservation of Affordable Rental Housing: An Evaluation of the MacArthur Foundation’s Window of Opportunity Initiative. RAND Corporation report.

Jovanna Rosen (2016). Climate, Environmental Health Vulnerability, and Physical Planning: A Review of the Forecasting Literature. Journal of Planning Literature, 1-20.

Eun Jin Shin (2017). Ethnic Neighborhoods, Social Networks, and Inter-household Carpooling: A Comparison Across Ethnic Minority Groups, Journal of TransportGeography, Vol. 59, pp. 14–26.

Xize Wang, Marlon Boarnet, and D. Houston (2016). Can New Light Rail Reduce Personal Vehicle Carbon Emissions? A before-after, experimental-control evaluation in Los Angeles, Journal of Regional Science.

Research Centers and Opportunities

Urban Data Lab

Urban Data Lab

Urban Data Lab uses computational data science and spatial analysis to explore urban transportation patterns around the world, critically interrogate how big data reshapes housing affordability, and leverage technology platforms for more just, collaborative city planning.


METRANS Transportation Center

METRANS’ mission is to solve transportation problems of large metropolitan regions through interdisciplinary research, education and outreach. With three key objectives – to foster independent, high quality research to solve the nation’s transportation problems; train the next generation transportation workforce; and disseminate information, best practices, and technology to the professional community – this partnership between USC and CSULB brings together two large urban universities with complementary strengths.

Pop Dynamics Group

Population Dynamics Research Group

The Population Dynamics Research Group uncovers demographic trends that drive major changes in society, providing insights that lead to effective policies. These population patterns underlie areas like immigration, education, the environment, and urban growth. The Popdynamics team monitors the future using the decennial U.S. Census, the American Community Survey, and our own carefully crafted Demographic Futures projections which incorporate layers of demographic analysis and include greater detail than the census provides.

Wind farm at sunset

USC Center for Sustainability Solutions

The Center for Sustainability Solutions develops policy, technological, and behavioral solutions to the most pressing sustainability problems of the Southern California region and the world.  It brings together scholars and stakeholders from sustainability organizations around the world to collaborate on basic and applied research aimed at making a real-world impact

SLAB logo

Spatial Analysis Lab (SLAB)

Committed to expanding the visualization of public policy and urban planning, the USC Price School launched its Spatial Analysis Lab for research. SLAB’s research experiments with developing alternative cartographies to bring attention to overlooked urban spaces and people. It also critically studies how our visual narratives interface with social institutions and public discourse.

Sol Price Center for Social Innovation

The Sol Price Center for Social Innovation was established with the recent gift to name the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. This new center aims to advance ideas, strategies, and practices that enhance the quality of life for people in urban communities. The center will provide opportunities for direct student engagement across all of the Price School’s primary disciplines.